NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – The road to a fifth consecutive win for Manchester University was a winding one Tuesday, Oct. 22.
A determined Bluffton University squad gave the Spartans all they could handle and more in a thrilling Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference battle at Spartan Field. Battling rain and cold temperatures throughout, MU held off Bluffton 3-2 in overtime.
Despite falling to 4-8 overall and 2-4 in the league, the visiting Beavers forged 17 shot attempts, six of which were on goal. Manchester University, improving to 9-6-1 and 5-1 in conference action, finished with 18 shots, nine of which were on goal.
Both sides took chances to end the match early in overtime. Bluffton University had a pair of long range shots curl just past the left and right side of the post, while Spartan junior Diane McAfee (Fort Wayne, Ind.) drove a direct opportunity just to the left, and sophomore forward Brandy Crouse (Cleves, Ohio) rocketed a shot over the goal mouth and on by. In the eighth minute, the Black and Gold wrapped up the victory, as junior midfielder Amber Oster (Waterloo, Ind.) sent a corner kick into the box which junior forward Katelyn Barta (Griffith, Ind.), concluding a three-point match, headed past Beavers' senior goalkeeper Maggie Armstrong for the game winner.
After a scoreless first half in which Armstrong knocked away three Black and Gold shots on goal, a combined four goals were posted in the second 45 minutes. Freshman midfielder Kristen Tropf broke up the 0-0 tie three and a half minutes in, beating Spartan junior goalkeeper Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) to the right side of the goal on a three-on-two breakaway.
The home side answered, much in the same way they rallied back against Earlham College in their previous match Oct. 19. Crouse, compiling her eighth goal of the year, took a pass from Barta and sent it into the back of the net in the 55th minute, while less than five minutes later, junior midfielders Amber Kent (Fountaintown, Ind.) and Oster worked the ball in front of the net for a Kent goal and a 2-1 lead. MU kept the advantage until the final seven minutes when BU senior midfielder Megan Moreo got behind the Spartan defense and deposited the ball into the net for a 2-2 tie.
Manchester University takes to the road for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Oct. 26, at Mt. St. Joseph College of Ohio.
NOTES: Crouse has been on a scoring tear of late, registering five goals in her last six matches … Barta's totals marked her fifth outing of three points or more … Kent's goal made her the ninth Spartans' player to tally a score this season … MU's five-match win streak is the program's longest since the 2004 squad reeled off seven straight early in the season.